First baseman Chris Hess and designated hitter Dermis Garcia each launched solo home runs in the Charleston RiverDogs’ 4-3 loss to the Augusta GreenJackets in front of a sold-out Fourth of July crowd of 6,877 at Riley Park on Wednesday.
The RiverDogs’ (41-39, 8-4) first baserunner came with two outs in the second as Hess crushed a first pitch off Aaron Phillips (3-4) over the left centerfield scoreboard to put Charleston up 1-0 with two outs. Garcia also smashed a two-out round-tripper midway up the batter’s eye in straightaway center in the fourth.
Hess added a second hit in the seventh inning. The Rhode Island product and All-Star selection came in 6-for-39 in the second half and 11-for-72 going back to before the break.
Charleston scored its final run in the bottom of the eighth when center fielder Pablo Olivares and shortstop Wilkerman Garcia ripped back-to-back doubles. Garcia’s was his second two-bagger of the night, complemented by his ninth stolen base, which matched Olivares for the team lead.
19-year-old Deivi Garcia (1-2) threw five innings for the RiverDogs, surrendering three Augusta (42-40, 5-9) runs, all coming in the fourth inning. Two of those runs came in on an error by right fielder Mitchell Hansen when a single that would have loaded up the bases rolled past him.
Garcia struck out seven in the effort, combining with Phillips to punch out 16 hitters in the first five innings. Augusta’s hitters had struck out 812 times entering play, 52 more than any other team in the South Atlantic League. Garcia entered the game with a 14.4 K/9 ratio, the highest rate of any RiverDogs pitcher. The Dominican Republic product has now fanned at least seven batters in each of his first four starts as a RiverDog.
Reliver Dalton Higgins allowed the fourth Augusta run in the eighth, an RBI single. Previously, the right-hander had not allowed an earned run in his previous 15 innings.
Wednesday’s loss marked the first time Charleston has dropped back-to-back games in the second half, and the Dogs still have a league-best start of 8-4 since the All-Star break.
Charleston has not won a Fourth of July game at Riley Park since 2004. The RiverDogs are 7-7 on Independence Day since their last victory at The Joe.
Independence Day brought a WOW! Cable postgame fireworks extravaganza played to the patriotic jams of the USA’s 242-year history. Fans were given American flags which they waved throughout the night, and players donned stars and stripes from their socks to their wrist tape.
The RiverDogs continue the series with Augusta on Thursday night at 7:05 p.m. Charleston will throw righty Jio Orozco (0-1, 3.06) coming off his best start of the season, 5 2/3 scoreless innings last Friday at The Joe. The GreenJackets are scheduled to counter with southpaw Joey Marciano (4-2, 2.38).